JUST A WARNING - THIS IS A LONG POST, BUT YOU MIGHT FIND IT INTERESTING!
While I'm getting back into the swing of things after my holiday, I thought you might be interested to see this project from way back when. In 2002 my mum celebrated a big birthday (no, I'm not telling!) and when asked what gift she would like, said she'd love a 'proper' leather jewellery box. So we trotted off to see what was available but I wasn't happy with most of those we saw: they were either too small or not the right configuration or just not well finished at all and with Mum's birthday only a few weeks away, I still hadn't found 'the one'.
One night, unable to sleep, I was downstairs at 2.00 a.m. when, suddenly, just out of the blue, I had this vision of how Mum's box should be. I got my sketchbook and pencil and by 6.00 a.m. (yes, an all-nighter!), I had designed the very thing, down to the last detail. Next morning I showed my OH the sketches and declared that I was going to make Mum the perfect jewellery box, with slots for watches and hangers for earrings and drawers for rings and ....... well, you get the idea. At that point, I think the concensus was that I had finally lost my marbles but not once did anyone say I couldn't do it.
Over the next few weeks, for hours each day, I skived leather (i.e. removed the 'flesh' from the back of the leather to make it thin) and cut board and we lived in a constant fug of leather shavings and board scraps. My Dad and close friends would pop round from time to time to see how it was going and never once remarked on the state of the living room, bless them all!
I recorded some of the work along the way and thought you might like to see the work in progress and the final product. Remember - this started as large pieces of heavy grey board and two calf skins and everything was done by hand.
Here are the photos:
The inside of the box, finished and ready for the casing and hinges.
the ring drawer, with padded insert (top left)
a watch drawer, long and narrow (x 4) (middle right)
a longer, deep drawer for brooches, etc. (bottom).
Each of the drawers was lined with raw silk (as was the inner of the outer casing you'll see later) and each compartment (i.e. the empty space where a drawer would fit) was lined with blue book cloth.
The handles were mahogany cubes, cut from mahogany square strip wood, tipped with pewter, screwed through the drawer fronts.
As explained above, the empty compartment is lined with book cloth, which you can see here.
The doors are panelled at the front - you will probably see this more clearly in the final photograph. The top panel of each door is inlaid with a hand-embossed pewter panel, in the style of Rennie Mackintosh. The pewter panel has also been enamelled in places to give some colour.
The back of the panel was filled with silicone to try and prevent the embossed areas from being accidentally knocked back in
during day-to-day handling.
The finished box stands around 13 inches tall (32 cms) and is approximately 9 inches (22.5 cm) wide and deep.
It took a total of 16 sq ft of calf leather, most of which had to be skived, even though I had had the skins split thinner at the tannery.
It took a total of eight weeks, working much of each afternoon and evening, to make from scratch. There are an incredible number of separate pieces to each component and some very careful measuring and planning had to be done before each stage.
I have to say that this is one of my biggest achievements. It is in use daily and eight years later is still all in one piece (with the exception of one small piece of pewter, which I must go and reattach!). It was a real labour of love and Mum still delights in showing it off to anyone who hasn't already seen it!
So, if you've made it this far, well done you for sticking with it and thank you for being interested enough not to give up and go eat chocolate instead!
I'm working on getting some cards sorted now, as quickly as possible, and 'normal service will be resumed' in the next few days.